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Giancarlo Esposito

Disney+ Rolls Out its First Hit with THE MANDALORIAN

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Jeri Jacquin

Currently on the new streaming service Disney+ from characters based on George Lucas’ STAR WARS and creator Jon Favreau is a continuing story in the galaxy far, far away with THE MANDALORIAN.

It has been five years since the Galactic Empire’s defeat and life has gone on. For a Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) it means working hard for very little. When the need for a hunter slows down, there is one job that needs doing and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) offers it up with what seems a veil of mystery.

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The job is to go to Arvala-7 and find the bounty who happens to be fifty years old. Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) makes it very clear that the bounty be brought back alive. The Mandalorian doesn’t seem to care in the slightest as long as he can change a bar of Beskar into armorer.

Crashing onto Arvala-7, the Mandalorian is attacked by large creatures called Blurgg’s and is saved by Kuiil (Nick Nolte) who wants only one thing in return. Kuill wants those who have invaded his planet to be removed so peace will return, oh, and the Blurgg! Taking him to the place where bounty hunters have gone previously, a quick showdown ensues with the help of a IG-11 droid. Finding the bounty, The Mandalorian isn’t going to let anyone get near him.

A fifty year old infant is now in his hands but there are other mercenaries who want the kid. Trying to get away quickly, The Mandalorian discovers his ship has been stripped down by Jawas. Kuiil knows how to get it all back and with his help, plus a trip to get an egg, provides the parts to get off the ground again.

Pascal as The Mandalorian has already thrilled audiences in only two episodes. There is a mystery behind the helmet that he (so far) hasn’t made an attempt to remove. This character obviously has a story to tell about his people, the Beskar, how he became a bounty hunter and why he is keeping his bounty safer than expected. Pascal seemed to have a steep road ahead of him but I’m thinking it’s leveled off a lot more since the first episode. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Weather as Greef is a business man and his business is bounties. It is clear he has no problem stiffing The Mandalorian for his work but I always say what goes around comes around so Greef better be prepared. Nice to see Weathers again! Abhati as Dr. Pershing has me creeped out in that he is going to be the guy who wants to do things that is going to upset everyone. Nothing wrong with playing a bad guy as long as you do it extremely well.

Nolte as Kuiil is a character that has a lot of emotions but keeps them in check. Then again if Nick Nolte says, “I have spoken” you tend to believe him. I am hoping that we see more of this character because he certainly has something to offer.

Other cast include Werner Herzog as The Client, Taika Waititi as IG-11, Gina Carano as Cara Dune, Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon with Horatio Sanz as Mythrol, Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand, and Julia Jones as Omera.

It was announced in 2018 that Jon Favreau would serve as a writer and executive producer of the series. Adding to that list is Dave Filoni, Colin Wilson, and Kathleen Kennedy to complete the producers list. When it comes to directors the line includes Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow.

With that line up and the success of Disney+ and only two episodes airing to a hungry Star Wars audience, it is no surprise that the green light has been given to the second season. To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the film having been disappointed by a few films in the Star Wars franchise.

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That being said, by the end of the first episode I was squealing with delight and thrilled that the second episode wasn’t so far behind. Telling anyone who will listen to watch THE MANDALORIAN immediately is probably wearing my friends out. It’s true though, this is going to be a series that has such potential and the main reason is that it feels like Star Wars, and that above all is what will keep me coming back each week.

This is out of the park for Disney+ in that they have everything Star Wars on their streaming service so while I’m introducing my granddaughter to the Star Wars saga, I can enjoy the continuation of that world. Mainly because the kid in me is totally geeking out over THE MANDALORIAN!

Thanks Disney+!

Get Ready to Bolt with MAZE RUNNER: The Death Cure Coming to Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray and DVD, as well as 4K Ultra HD, this week from director Wes Ball and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the race for life with MAZE RUNNER: The Death Cure.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is already back in the game becoming stronger as a leader to save their friends from WCKD. When they learn that Minho (Ki Hong Lee) is among the kids that have been taken by Janson (Aidan Gillen) to WCKD, Thomas doesn’t hesitate to want to jump in.

Vince (Larry Pepper) refuses to put more people on the line to save Minho even when Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) knows where he is. Even worse, they group knows that the enemy is getting closer and have to abandon their base.

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Thomas decides he can’t go with the group and attempts to leave camp, but not without Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden). Not about to let them go alone, they are joined by Jorge and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) who are equally wanting to get their friend back.

Minho is shocked when he wakes up to find himself back inside the maze with the help of Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) – but it is a new maze. Her creation has created a potential antibody to the virus that has taken so many but she must convince the leaders to continue the trials. Help comes in the words of Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) who is working with Ava.

Trying to get into the city to find Minho, Thomas and the group are taken by a group and a familiar face. Gally (Will Poulter) sets them all on edge until he explains how it is that he survived. Explaining that he wants to help Thomas get inside the city, Gally takes them to see Lawrence (Walton Goggins) who might be able to help.

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Making their way to WCKD one step at a time, Thomas and Newt have their first look at the big city. In the lab Ava and Teresa test more subjects but not before Janson is told that he needs to find Thomas while keeping another secret from Teresa. The virus is now inside the city and Teresa has been taken. Ava and Janson now realize that time is not on their side.

The fight is now inside the lab as Thomas and Newt get closer to Minho and Teresa has something that could be a game changer. Now, those on the outside that have been running are turning to fight strong.

Now, they have a chance!

O’Brien as Thomas returns to the role of a young man clearly on a mission that will save some and not others. Loyal to the people he met in the maze, he is not about to let Minho and the others stay inside the city of WCKD. O’Brien plays out his role in the trilogy as he began, intense and strong.

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Scodelario as Teresa is the character everyone loves to hate. With the upset from the second film it is easy to want to give her character redemption but it might be to late. Poulter as Gally is the surprise as he also ends his time in the maze with a twist.

Clarkson as Ava tries to find a way to create an antibody to the virus that is now inside the city. What hope she has depends on Minho and Clarkson always stands out in every performance she gives. Gillen as Janson is clearly irritated with the fact that he can’t seem to always get what he wants out of life in WCKD. He has the amazing ability to be the perfect bad guy without getting to much flack on him.

Goggins as Lawrence is one jacked up human being yet he still attempts to help the gang get inside the city. Lee as Minho gets the worst end of the deal as the labs want more and more from him. Sangster as Newt truly believes in the friendships that have kept him alive. We have literally watched Sangster grow up in this series of films.

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Salazar as Brenda continues to be a strong presence even if she is in the middle of wanting to be on her own and not helping others to being an amazing leader in her own right. Along with Esposito as Jorge, these two characters are trying to be better people while maintaining a rough exterior.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

The Bluray and DVD Special Features includes Audio Commentary by Director Wes Ball, Screenwriter T.S. Nowlin and Producer Joe Hartwick, Jr., Unlocking the Cure: The Final Run, Dystopia: The Completed World; Allies Reunited, A Look Back: The Director’s Journey, Deleted & Extended Scenes with Optimal Commentary, Going Out on Top, Gag Reel, Visual Effects Breakdowns and Visual Effects Reel with Optional Commentary and Gallery.

Also included is Movies Anywhere which is just that, the ability to watch anywhere with the App as well as a Digital Movie included.

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There is an epic and exclusive 24-page prequel origins comic book written by screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. The trilogy box set is also available that includes an exclusive MAZE RUNNER bandana chosen by fans.

MAZE RUNNER: The Death Cure brings about the finishing touches to a story that has been filled with twists, turns, intensity, trust issues, friendships, world colliding and a virus that can turn friends into foes and vice versa.

Wrapping everything up means preparing to take on the emotions of characters saying goodbye and smiling knowing that there future is deserved. Grab the popcorn and prepare for a marathon run of the MAZE RUNNER trilogy!

In the end – the time for lies is over!

THE JUNGLE BOOK Comes Alive

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Jeri Jacquin

Now on Bluray from director Jon Favreau and Walt Disney Home Entertainment is the story of a boy and the animals who love him in THE JUNGLE BOOK.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a very young boy who was rescued by Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and raised by the jungle wolves led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito). Learning all he can from the jungle animals, he is a happy man-cub.

That is until the appearance of Shere Khan (Idris Elba) who wants the jungle animals to turn over Mowgli. Bagheera knows that the only way to help Mowgli is to return him to the man-village where he will be safe with his own kind.

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Doing what Bagheera wants, it takes a flash before Mowgli decides that he wants to be with his animal family. That’s when the boy meets Baloo (Bill Murray) who befriends Mowgli and tries to teach him the carefree part of life.

On his journeys Mowgli meets unsavory types including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and King Louie the Orangutan (Christopher Walken). When King Louie tells Mowgli the truth about what Shere Khan has done, he knows what he must do. That is to return to Shere Khan with the Red Flower [fire].

The cub is about to become a man!

Sethi as Mowgli looks exactly how I’d expect him to. Of course there is the memory of the 1967 THE JUNGLE BOOK to base that statement off of. He is a strong and spindly legged character who has the same agility as the animals he has been raised by. This is a very big role for a young actor but Sethi seems to embrace it and jumps Mowgli from animation to flesh and man-cub.

Kingsley as Bagheera can read a phone book and I’d be happy. In his voice of this beautiful leopard is the care and concern for a boy he sees as one of the jungles very own. Murray as Baloo is his usual vocally funny self. Like Kingsley, the voice of Bill Murray will always win over movie goers whether it’s animation or character voices.

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Elba as Shere Khan allows his voice to make this tiger as angry as he wants to be. This tiger lives for the joy of causing pain in every man-cub or creature he comes into contact with. Elba’s voice projects that from start to finish.

Walken as King Louie cracked me up. Yes, I realize the end result is a gigantic orangutan out of control but before that moment Walken sweet talks the audience and the man-cub. Johannson as Kaa is sultry and slithery and if you’re going to hang around a snake you could do worse than have it speak like Johannson.

Cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, Garry Shandling as Ikki, Brighton Rose as Gray, Russell Peters as Rocky the Rhino, Madeleine Favreau as Raquel the Rhino, Sara Arrington as Neelgai Deer, and Sam Raimi as the voice of the Giant Squirrel.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is a recognized leader in the home entertainment industry. Their titles represent the highest level of picture and sound, featuring groundbreaking and state-of-the-art animation with unprecedented levels of interactivity made possible by Bluray technology.

THE JUNGLE BOOK had a lot to live up to as fans were holding their breath while protecting the animated version of this film. It is colorful, thoughtful and gives Disney another feather in its cap for bringing animation to live action. Bringing the Mowgli/Baloo Bare Necessities song brings people my age a shout out and ode to the animated film that many still hold dear. I know that my granddaughter loved the film being captivated by the characters and the soundtrack.

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The Bluray-DVD-Digital HD is filled with so many extras including THE JUNGLE BOOK Reimagined: Discover how the filmmakers reenvisioned this classic tale, I Am Mowgli: Follow the extraordinary journey of Neel Sethi who joins some of the biggest names in movies to bring this story to life, King Louie’s Temple Layer By Layer: Take a fast, engaging look at how the “I Wan’na Be Like You” sequence was created and Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau.

In the end – the legend will never be the same!

MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials Takes Off on Bluray!

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Jeri Jacquin

On Bluray from director Wes Ball and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment comes life after the maze with James Dashner’s best selling book series MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials.

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has escaped the maze along with Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Frypan (Dexter Darden), and Winston (Alexander Flores). Taken in by Janson (Aidan Gillen) Thomas knows early that something isn’t right no matter how well they are being treated.

That’s when Aris (Jacob Lofland) enlists Thomas’ help to discover what Janson is up to. They learn that Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) is using the teens to find a cure for a rampant disease. Not wanting to stay around to see what will happen next, Thomas gathers the group and they make a break.

Now they are on the wasteland of the Scorch looking for the WCKD. Coming to a group of buildings they meet Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) who can lead them to Vince (Barry Pepper) and Mary (Lili Taylor). Thomas and his friends finally discover what has been hidden from them.

Who they can trust has become more crucial than ever!

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O’Brien as Thomas brings his character up in the second installment of the series. Knowing there is more to his memory, he is trying to keep his group safe – but from what? This young actor has a lot of film weight on his young shoulders and he doesn’t disappoint. Now that we know the what and the why, all that’s left is who Thomas really is and how he fits into all this. I think O’Brien is definitely up for the challenge!

Lee as Minho is a strong character that believes in Thomas following him without hesitation, that’s a good friend. Sangster as Newt is a yin-yang type of character in that in one moment he believes in Thomas and then turns around filled with doubt questioning everything.

Along with Darden as Frypan and Flores as Winston, the group is well rounded out with young men who want answers. The interesting person in the group is Teresa who drops hints at Thomas without ever really saying what needs to be said.

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Gillen as Janson welcomes the group with open arms but, as Gillen tends to portray, there is a friendliness that just rubs Thomas the wrong way. Working with Clarkson as Paige, these two are focused on one thing – doing what ever it takes to find a cure – and they don’t care who they use in the process.

Salazar as Brenda stands out in the film. She keeps her eye on everyone and makes it her business to know how to escape a tight situation. When she is attacked by the infected, it doesn’t stop her from wanting to help Thomas. Esposito as Jorge wants to break away from his situation and joins the young group in looking for the WCKD.

Pepper as Vince is responsible for the group of young people and wants to get them to the safe zone. It is Taylor as Mary who has the medical knowledge that Paige wants to squash!

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment continues to expand its award winning portfolio with new entertainment with DVD, Bluray and Digital HD as well as VOD. With so much to offer take time to visit www.foxconnect.com to see everything available and what’s come in 2016.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. The series continues with its twists and turns even as secrets are revealed. It is layer upon layer of story telling that is well done and brought to the screen with action and continued adventure.

The set design and costuming bring so much to the film. If you are going to have ‘Scorch’ in the title you better make sure the surroundings reflect that – and it certainly does.

Also, the cast brings the characters literally from book to screen. O’Brien has shown such strength in his character and no matter what is to come next, I know this young man will carry it through. I can’t wait to see Thomas lead his group to their next challenge of not only rescuing friends, but freeing those being held against their will.

This is the ultimate Bluray fan edition with two hours of extras and a 24-page collectible printed prequel comic book and all of it makes a fantastic holiday gift! The special features include Janson’s Report, Secrets of the Scorch with The Second Chapter Begins…, Creating a Scorched Earth, New Friends and Enemies, Surviving the Scorch, Creating the Cranks, On the Edge: Constructing the Skyscraper Sequence, Visual Effects Breakdowns, and Visual Effects Reel.

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But that’s not all! There are Deleted and Extended Scenes with Audio Commentary from Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin, Joe Hartwick Jr., and Dan Zimmerman with Food Fight, Storage Depot Walk – Meet Janson, Bunker Escape – Minho Knows the Way, Mall Walk – Escalators, Mall Attack – Goodbye Jack, Scorch Travel – Teresa on Bridge, Scorch Travel – Helping Winston, Newt & Thomas at Campfire, Extended Jorge Lair Walk, Crack Attack WCKD Soldiers, Extended Zipline, Jorge Lair – Brenda Fires Back, Extended Tunnel Walk, and Extended Crankland WCKD Arrives along with Gag Reel and Galleries.

This truly is an amazing Bluray to own and with Christmas right around the corner, MAZE RUNNER: The Scorch Trials would be amazing to put in anyone’s stocking from Santa!

In the end – the maze was just the beginning!

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